Vox Lux

Directed by Brad Corbet, Vox Lux is a film that in some ways serves as a good chaser to Lady Gaga-lead A Star is Born. Vox Luxfollows singer Celeste in her initial rise to fame on the way to tragedy as a teenager, and subsequently her struggles with her own teenager daughter as she juggles this responsibility and maintaining her career as an older popular music performer.

Viewing and listening to the trailer, however, such details are refreshingly scant, instead (perhaps unsurprisingly) placing full attention on the music, which plays a central role in this film. The key song of the trailer, “Wrapped Up,” is written by Sia and performed by Natalie Portman and Raffey Cassidy. 

The beginning of the trailer is certainly most interesting in terms of the edit. Celeste is performing at a concert, promising to “travel back in time,” and we get a jump cut that does just this, as we see her a teenager at a funeral. As a jump between the mental and liminal spaces of a concert and a funeral, it is startling. By turns anthemic and pleading, the teenage Celeste (Portman) asks in song (accompanied by piano) to “turn the light on/cause I’ve got no one to show me the way.” A zoom-in on a film camera is accompanied by a frenzied audience cheer, which like a sound bridge that brings up back to the present moment, with Celeste performing at a high profile pop concert. It’s a clever bit of audiovisual editing that imparts the experience of having stardom thrust upon a person in a stark few seconds.

The music appears to fade out at 1:04 alongside the sound effect of a flashbulb; it appears that we see Celeste in the past, being offered advice – to dance like “you ain’t got a care in the world, okay?” It’s uncompromisingly feel-good, and the next scene, with a full-blown chorus and stage performance of present-Celeste in full concert regalia shows that back-against-the-wall fighting spirit that Sia has become known for. 

This trailer is a triumphant unfurling of emotional guts – beautiful, glittery guts, at that. It’s a bit off-kilter, but oh-so-human at its core; arguably, it is A Star is Born, but under Sia’s particular brand of approachable eccentricity and balladeering catharsis.

Vox Lux is playing now in select theatres and sees a wide release on December 14th.

 – Curtis Perry